Thursday, January 10, 2013

A WARM MORNING ON THE HOLSTON RIVER

Animal shots taken with Sigma 500mm  IS Tele lens


The beaver house sits quiet in the back eddy along the river - its occupants sleeping on a bed of cat tails and leaves above the waterline until hunger awakens them.
I had been wondering for the past two months why I haven't seen the three otter that played that day I photographed them on the shoreline at the mouth of Beech Creek.  They were the first ones I posted on this blog.  I found the answer today.  I saw a trapper in a boat setting traps at likely otter slides and dens.  I stopped and bid him good morning.  When I queried him about his successes he said he had taken 40 otter  and near 50 beaver from this river last year.  He mentioned he trapped five otters from this very area only a month ago.  I won't go into my personal opinion about trapping as I might lose my temper and that wouldn't do.  I forced a smile and wished him a good day.  I guess I won't be seeing my three little friends anymore.
 These are the little guys I always watch for.  These were the first I've found up here.  They are gone.  Trapped.


 A little band of coots slowly made their way along the grass.















I kept my eyes open for beavers and otters but, somehow I almost wished I wouldn't see any.  I wanted them to hide.  But hiding won't save them.  They can't avoid a trap set at the opening of their dens.
Suddenly a canvas back duck broke from the grass and lifted off into the air at top speed.  Beautiful!
 It looked like this was going to be a birdy kind of day.  That's alright.  These waters hold some of the migratory birds that aren't usually found else-ware.  It keeps things interesting.
A movement along the grasses indicated that a tiny pied bill grebe was moving cautiously along the very shallow water against the grasses.



Grebes are a common bird and are taken for granted by most folks.  They are very interesting to watch feeding.  They will pick an insect off a leaf or blade of grass and never miss a paddle with their feet.  They constantly move.  When alarmed, a grebe will dive under the surface and usually disappear not to be seen again.  They are masters at becoming invisible.

  A large hawk was sitting in a tree watching the field that lay just beyond the tree line at the edge of the river.  He is a red shouldered hawk.




I couldn't get the trapper out of my mind.  It was something I couldn't let go of.  I suddenly wished I weren't here.  It was almost time to leave anyway.  Just one more pass down the shoreline and I would load up and leave.


He suddenly landed in a tree right beside my boat as I was passing by.  What a big hawk.  I refrain naming this hawk as I'm not really sure what species he is.  He is light buff in color, quite unlike the color of a red tail.  Yet, he resembles a red tail.  He's too large for a coopers hawk and definitely not a sharp shinned hawk.  Probably a red tail with light color plumage.  Not sure at this point but, he was impressive.  It is a dark morning and I'm shooting with very slow shutter speed and wide aperture.   I love to capture birds with a camera when they fly or land.  I doubted I would be able to do justice to this beautiful bird.

As you can see below, the image is blurred due to a very low shutter speed.  You can only do so much by using a 500mm lens set at 1/250th on a flying bird.  Had I been able to use at least 1/1000th shutter speed, this would have been one of my best shots ever.  But, it is what it is.  I just found out that this is a light colored version of the red tail hawk.  Who'd a thunk it?
I wanted to photograph a traditional beaver dam for you.  We have seen the lodges earlier in this entry.  Beavers also use holes in the river bank.  I guess the most familiar sight that most folks relate with beavers are their dams.  Usually there is a dam with beaver lodges built behind them.  There are no lodges associated with this dam as the critters are using dens built into the river bank but, an official beaver dam it is.
You can easily see that the water surface level is much higher behind the dam than it is in the river.  They are marvelous dam builders.
I crossed the river and made my way up the other side toward Beech Creek and the boat ramp.  An eagle resides on the tall mountain side off to my right and a glance proved him still living there.  He appears to be elevated above all others who dwell on this lake.  In reality, he is elevated.  He's about two thousand feet higher than everyone else.  But, he is the king of the sky and water.  Nothing escapes his gaze.  He sees all.
And so, the day is history.  Its time to leave.  I am saddened by the knowledge that there are those who have found it desirable to trap the beautiful creatures who dwell here.  They bother no one, nor do they cause harm to property and are not a bother to any human.  Yet, they can not live in peace.  And, they don't know to fear the metal trap.